If you ever had the chance to experience the exotic taste of ackee and saltfish, you will probably never forget it. This yummy exotic dish acquired its name from the two main ingredients—ackee and saltfish and is Jamaica’s national dish. It is one of the most popular breakfast served amongst our native islanders and definitely one of my favorites.
Although I can acquire the ingredients (canned ackee) here in the United States. It can never outdo the salivating taste of freshly picked ackee and saltfish back home in Jamaica.
What Is Ackee?
From what I know about ackee, it is a native fruit of West Africa and made its way to the Caribbean around the early 1700-1800s during the slave trade. It is best eaten cooked and loaded with numerous nutritional health benefits. From the lowing of blood pressure to strengthening the bones to maintaining blood stability and improving heart functions—ackee is definitely an exotic delicacy to include on your next meal “bucket list.”
Other benefit includes:
- High protein content
- Aids the digestive system
- Boost immunity
- Improve blood circulation
What is Saltish?
Well, the term “saltfish” provides us a clue. Basically, it is codfish preserved with salt to extend the shelve life for several years. Throughout many Caribbean islands, it is also known as bacalhau, baccala, and bacalao. However, back home in Jamaica, it is known as saltfish or cod fish.
As for the nutritional benefits—it is packed with protein and low in fat. Other dietary benefits include omega-3s, various vitamins, and minerals. However, the sodium content is high because of the curing process. Nutritionist recommends limiting excess consumption of saltfish for individuals diagnosed with high blood pressure, heart, and kidney disease.
Ackee & Saltfish Recipe
Now that you have a brief history and the benefits of the main ingredients let’s get on with how to prepare this delicious Caribbean cuisine. My personal recipe deviates from the traditional version of using the dried codfish. The customary process requires soaking the fish for a few hours and boiling the fish several times to remove the excess salt. Once the salt is removed, you will have to remove the bones and skin. The entire process may take about 30-45 minutes, including a pungent fishy odor that lingers for hours.
My process uses fresh cod without the salt. It is much simpler to cook, save time, eliminates odor, and taste much fresher!
2 cups of fresh ackee or 1 can of Ackee
1½ lbs. of fresh codfish
½ bell peppers (red, yellow or green)
1 pinch of scotch bonnet pepper
1½-2 tbsp of all-purpose seasoning (I prefer the Maggi’s brand)
2-3 cloves of garlic
½ tsp of black pepper
¼ tsp of pink salt (optional)
1 stalk of chopped scallion
1 medium tomato
2-3 tbsp of coconut oil (olive oil optional)
Preparing Saltfish (traditional version)
- Soak saltfish for 1 hour
- Place cod in a medium pot with about 3 cups of water. Boil for 15 minutes (twice to remove salt)
- Pour off water
- De-bone remove skin and separate into small chunks
1. Pat fish with a paper towel to remove any moisture.
2. Apply seasoning on both sides of cod.
- Boil fresh ackee for 15-20 minutes or until tender or one can of ackee. I also prefer Grace brand.
- Heat (1 tbsp) oil and add salute garlic, tomatoes, scallion, scotch bonnet, and bell peppers until tender.
- Place sautéed mixture in a bowl.
- Add 2 tbsp to skillet and fry cod until golden brown on both sides.
- Using spoon, brake cod into small chunks.
- Once cooked, add sautéed ingredients, blend ingredients, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add drained ackee.
- Add black pepper and additional all-purpose seasoning if needed.
- Cover and simmer for 2 minutes
- Stir gently. Avoid scrambling the ackee. Doing so will create a mushy texture and make it recipe less appealing.
- Serve with your choice of sides and enjoy!
From my kitchen to yours, I hope you enjoy this delicious meal. Make sure to leave your comments, I would love to hear what you think!
For more information on how to create additional healthy meals and how to look and live your best life. Visit my website at meobachi.com
You can also visit my Youtube channel below and view my demonstration of how to prepare this recipe at your convenience.